The minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, gave this Saturday the involvement of the Armed Forces in the vaccination against covid-19 in Portugal as an example for NATO governments to ask for the reinforcement of defense budgets.
“When you have to convince the deputies that it is necessary to spend more on defense, it is important to show the importance of the armed forces (…) for the performance of other human security objectives,” he said.
Augusto Santos Silva responds to the Hungarian representative at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, taking place in Lisbon until Monday, who questioned him about the success of the vaccination against covid-19.
This Saturday Portugal became the first country in the world to 85% of the population with complete vaccination against covid-19, announced the Ministry of Health.
In this process, about 15.3 million vaccines were administered in mainland Portugal, enabling about 8.4 million people to have the complete vaccination schedule, according to the ministry.
Augusto Santos Silva recalled that in January and February of this year, Portugal lived through the “hardest times” of the pandemic, when it was considered the country with “the most serious situation in Europe and one of the most serious in the world”.
The links to Portugal’s links with different countries, “it was very important to speed up vaccination,” he said.
Santos Silva explained to participants in the parliamentary assembly of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that Portugal benefited from the advantage of “Portuguese being used to vaccines” due to the national vaccination plan.
He highlighted the strategy of linking vaccination against covid-19 to mobility and the use of the logistics of the Portuguese Armed Forces, a decision he considered relevant to the ongoing debate at NATO on the strategic concept of defence.
Santos Silva told NATO parliamentarians that the leader of the vaccination mission, Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, always appeared in public in his military uniform, considering that his mission was a war.
“This was very important to convince people (…), because in Portugal the military is highly respected,” he said.
On the other hand, “the capacity of the Armed Forces was very important to organize and mobilize the country for vaccination,” he added.
Santos Silva argued that a vaccination campaign against a covid-19 also represented a “new legitimization of the Armed Forces”.
After finishing his explanation, Santos Silva said that the president of the Portuguese delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, PSD deputy Adão Silva, present in the room, had recalled another reason for the success of vaccination: the political consensus regarding to the pandemic.
“It was also essential to the success of Portugal’s fight against the pandemic in that it was never a political issue,” he said.
The minister noted that the leader of the biggest party of religion, Rui Rio, due in parliament that the PSD was “on the side of the Government” in the fight against covid-19 because it was concerned with a basic issue of national interest.